I’m publishing a series of stories, called Variations, on the KDP Direct Program. It’s a series that plays with fairytale motifs, with flourishes of horror. The first piece, to be published soon, is called Fur & Gold. It was inspired by Tanith Lee, Angela Carter, the music of Bat for Lashes, the art of Jean Cocteau and transgressive fiction of Jean Genet.
The cover credits are as follows:
Kindle cover art designed and composited by Tom Drymon, drymondesign; images © shutterstock.com, © Nejron Photo, © Willyam Bradberry.
Look for Fur & Gold this Monday (March 3, 2014)!
The first Angela Carter fiction I read was her collection Saints and Sinners. I was immediately entranced by the dense, layered symbols embedded like diamonds in her stories, and the baroque prose with which she cloaked her tales. She became an obsession–I devoured everything she wrote, from The Passion of New Eve to The Infernal Desire Machines of Doctor Hoffman. Her work drew from a host of sources, from surrealism to B-movies to fairytales to Jungian psychology. Her work also addressed a variety issues, from feminism to racism without ever being didactic. Her work was fantastic and intellectually robust.
Angela Carter was one of the first authors to show me that fantasy fiction could as philosophically and social engaged as literary fiction. Her work used the tropes of fantastic and surrealistic fiction to examine challenge the mythological roots of our culture.
The circus/carnival novel is a well-worn subgenre in the fantasy genre. Circuses are places where magic and mystery hide in plain sight, so they are a natural place for fantastic exploration. They come in various flavors, from the surreal (Angela Carter’s Fellini-esque Nights at the Circus) to the sinister (Katherine Dunn’s Geek Love) to the nostalgic (James Blaycock’s Land of Dreams). Erin Morgenstern’s much hyped debut, The Night Circus is not the most unique retooling of the circus trope (that belongs to Genevieve Valentine’s dystopian steampunk novel Mechanique), but it is addictive.
It’s an unabashedly romantic tale of rival magicians connected to a travelling circus around the turn of the century. Morgenstern’s language is sensual and bejeweled—a tad precious for some tastes. The passionate pas de deux between the magicians Marco and Celia isn’t half as interesting as elegant night circus that Morgenstern creates. It’s full of wonder and whimsy—paper animals that move, labyrinths, rooms of ice and room of scented bottles. The book moves at a languid pace, pausing to describe the rustle of a gown, the detail on a clock, the smell of caramel. Both Marco and Celia are unwilling pawns of their enchanter fathers; in spite of some moments of heated conflict, even that drama isn’t as important as the rich, dreamy atmosphere Morgenstern conjures. Her brocaded text reminds me of those Art Deco paintings by Erté. The Night Circus is a sophisticated fairytale for adult readers, free of irony and jadedness, and full of enchantment.